The perils of 5-a-side in the summer

16 Aug

Sunny

The August holiday and wedding season has rolled around again, and with it comes the challenge of getting enough players together for the weekly 5-a-side kick-about. It’s something of an irony that whilst it is the wetter months and the waterlogged pitches they bring which play havoc with 11-a-side fixtures when it comes to the small-sided game it is these warmer months in which just getting games on feels like a bridge too far.

According to stats from Sports England each week just under three quarters of a million people aged 16+ play small-sided football on outdoor pitches. Many of these will play on artificial all-weather pitches, whilst well over a quarter of a million play small sided football indoors, under cover. In both cases fixtures are unaffected by all but the most extreme weather, but whilst these allow for football to be played all year-round free from the risk of waterlogging in winter, or being rock-hard in the summer the problem becomes one of getting anyone to play at all when your week-in-week-out regular players are off on their holidays.

It is a perilous time for many groups of players. Contact books are stretched to the limit as the text messages fly about “we’ve got 7, need 3 more.. does anyone know someone who can play?” or, “going to be 4 a-side this week”, which elicits a groan at the thought of all that extra running in the heat. Some groups simply give up, vowing to reform in September, but for those involved in leagues there is little choice, but to soldier on as much of the investment in all-weather facilities has been driven by commercial operators who are unwilling to see their profits dip in the summer and therefore run their fixtures regardless.

This has led to some strange consequences. Small-sided league football over the summer often resembles wartime football where the top players of the day routinely ‘guested’ for teams close to where they were stationed. This all means that teams fluctuate wildly, so one week a team of world-beaters who you suspect may have more than one semi-pro in their ranks, turn out the next week to be a bunch of press-ganged no-hoppers whose ruddy cheeks make it look as if they haven’t kicked a ball in a few years.

In my possession I have at least one league trophy which owed more to the skill in persuading someone, anyone, to turn up than it did to any prowess on the pitch. The race for second place came down to the last day of the season and it was with a sense of relief that our opponents, who were occupying the second place slot, failed to appear automatically giving us the points which allowed us to leapfrog them into the runners-up slot. This was more than a little fortunate as had they turned up my makeshift side would have been on the receiving end of a real thumping.

The rise and rise of 5-a-side

21 Jun

Thursday evening at an outdoor 5-a-side centre and a crowd has gathered around two sides of the corner pitch. Peering in through the protective mesh fencing the object of attention is one Matt Le Tissier. Playing at his customary pace the splendidly languid Southampton legend receives the ball and resists the attentions of a younger and fitter opponent by gently nudging it behind his standing leg. His opponent succeeds in getting something on the ball, but it’s not enough. Seemingly out of nowhere, Le Tissier fires off a fast angled ball which instantly transports those watching the back to some point in the 1990s and which a teammate fully does justice to by converting into a goal.

The most unusual thing about the scene is the spectators. Aside from a brief period in the 1980s when Soccer Six attracted large crowds and appeared on television, small-sided football hasn’t ever really taken off as a spectator sport. As a participation sport however, the small-sided game, and in particular 5-a-side, has grown significantly over the past fifteen years to the extent that it is now the way in which most of us experience actually playing the game.

Figures from Sports England’s Active People survey for 2014/15 reveal that among those aged 16+ who reported playing football at least weekly 740,200 participated in small-sided outdoor football, whilst an additional 292,600 reported participating in small-sided indoor football. This compares to the 598,000 who reported participating in 11-a-side in the same period. Moreover whilst the number of those participating in 11-aside on a weekly basis has declined by over 100,000 and the numbers playing small-sided indoor football have dropped by around 150,000 since 2009/10 – the first year in which the survey differentiated football by type – the numbers playing small-sided outdoor football have held relatively firm.

There are several interconnected factors which can be implicated in this shift in how we play the game; technological, economic and social. In terms of technology, anyone with experience playing on pre-3G astroturf, and all the bloody knees and elbows that entailed (known affectionately as astro-burns), would find it difficult to disagree with one supplier of 3G pitches who describe 3G as “the most significant and successful development in synthetic surface technology designed for football and rugby at both competitive and recreational levels.” 3G proved a real game-changer in providing an all-weather surface which could be played on again and again with little of the wear demonstrated by grass pitches and which also provided a pleasant playing experience.

3G could of course equally be used for 11-a-side, however to build 3G pitches requires finance. Initially his investment would not come from under-pressure public bodies who owned and operated the majority of existing grass pitches, but from the private sector. The simple equation is that outdoor small-sided pitches, taking up much less space, offered such investors a much better return as more games and paying-players can be squeezed into a smaller area. The sheer scale of this private sector investment in small-sided football cannot be underestimated; One of the market leaders, who specialise in outdoor small-sides football, Goals soccer centres, boasts on its website that it operates 500 pitches which play host to over 130,000 players a week.

The final factor is social change. In general explanations offered for declining participation centre around changes in working patterns, less free time, or the growth of more individualised leisure pursuits. The influential academic Robert Putnam famously observed that in the US that, between 1980 and 1993, whilst the number of people bowling had been increasing, league bowling experienced a sharp decline, of around 40%. It may be that small-sided football, is perhaps better placed to weather such pressures than the 11-a-side game which tends to be based almost exclusively around competitive leagues and which requires an overall greater level of time commitment than small-sided football.

There are signs however, that the growth of small-sided football may have reached its limit. The Sports England data show that numbers playing outdoor small-sided football has stabilised over the past few years, whilst in March of this year it was reported that Goals Soccer Centres had posted its first annual pre-tax loss in 12 years. Against this there is also some evidence that 11-a-side 3G pitches are beginning to attract grant funding, particularly as many grassroots leagues have approved the use of 3G for competitive games. For now though it still appears true that while we may not particularly enjoy watching small sided football, we do prefer playing it.

Euro 2012 – A legacy?

13 Jun

Back in 2012 ‘Legacy’ was a word which was used quite a lot in connection with the London Olympics. There was a clear desire that once the main show packed up and left town that there would be lasting change, that in the long term, decades on, there would be more to show than a handful of underused, decaying stadia fit only for the bulldozer – that there would be instead a revitalisation of areas, of sports, and of lives.

Aside from the London games there was also another major sporting event in 2012 – The European Football Championships, jointly hosted by Poland and the Ukraine – and as we sit on the eve of the latest 2016 edition to take place in France it is perhaps a pertinent time to see what legacy, if any, Euro 2012 left for its host nations.

One of the key investments made for any major sporting event, whether it’s an Olympics, or Football Championships is the cost of the physical infrastructure needed to stage the event – the stadia, the transport connections, hotels and so on. Euro 2012 involved the construction of no fewer than five new stadia and the extensive renovation of a further three. The new stadia were constructed in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Donetsk, and Lviv.

One discernible legacy of such bricks and mortar investment can be seen in improved attendances for those clubs based at the stadia as enhanced capacity and improved facilities attract more spectators to games. Using data from the European Football Statistics Website it is possible to plot attendance trends in Poland and the Ukraine both before and after the Euros.

POLUKRattendances

It’s possible to see in both host countries a discernible rise in average attendances around Euro 2012. In the 2012/13 season attendances for top flight games in Poland and the Ukraine averaged at 8,409 and 12,547 respectively. These were up from 5,247 in Poland and 8,943 in The Ukraine for the 2009/10 season.

What happened next of course was to cause the Ukrainian average to plummet. This was down to the political situation in the Ukraine, one consequence of which was the exiling of one of the Ukraine’s biggest clubs Shakhtar Donetsk. In 2014 the club literally had to get out of town, leaving behind the sparkling Donbass arena, constructed in 2009. Whilst the club, backed by a wealthy owner, has continued to prosper on the pitch – reaching the semi-finals of this year’s Europa League – in the stands the dislocation from its fan base is obvious in attendance figures; Playing home games some 780 miles away in Lviv attendances have slid from 33,226 in the 13/14 season to 8,833 in the 14/15 season.

Meanwhile in Poland a wave of stadia renewal has been continuing post Euro 2012. The Ernest Pohl Stadium, home of Gornik Zabrze, the Bialystok City Stadium, home of Jagiellonia Bialystok and the Stadion Widzewa, home of Widzew Lodz are amongst grounds which have recently, or are currently undergoing major reconstruction, or complete rebuilding. This replacing of outdated facilities has unsurprisingly led to attendances continuing to rise, ensuring that in Poland at least the legacy of 2012 continues to be felt.

Non League – Not always friendly.

1 Apr

In recent years there’s been a widespread view that non-league football provides the perfect antidote to the big business of Premier league, a refuge for those either thoroughly disillusioned, priced out of grounds, or both. Countless books and articles have been published detailing the author’s quest for the ‘soul of football’ at various one-man-and-is-dog venues.

In these accounts the non-league game tends to be characterised as friendly and as warm as a toasted teacake; It is there that we can find lifelong fans sporting scarves not purchased from a club superstore but knitted by their mums, turnstile operators who regale you with stories of the glory days of the past, chatty tea ladies who call everyone ‘love’ or ‘duck’ and where, win or lose, everyone gathers in the bar afterwards for a nice pint.

The events at FC United of Manchester bring into focus how the myth of non-league as a warm and friendly world and the more messy reality collide. To sketch out the story FC United was formed in 2005 by Manchester United fans disillusioned by the Glazier takeover. Broadly, its aim was to be the very antithesis of the corporate behemoth Manchester United had become; FC United would be fan run, democratic and above all focused on serving the community. The enterprise has, in many ways been a success and the club has found itself in the Conference North with a brand new £6.3 million ground. A recent article by Daniel Taylor in The Guardian however, suggests that there is now an element of disharmony at the club which is “part of a story featuring legal action, resignations, protests, gagging orders and the overall feeling that FC are locked in an identity crisis.”

Following non-league over a few years I’ve noticed there is another side to the non-league game which is rarely, if ever, remarked upon. Visit some online message boards connected to a club and an underbelly of trolling, bullying and bickering can come into view. At one local non-league club I’ve seen a manager in a state of despair following a campaign from an individual launching a series of personal attacks – in the managers words “throwing hand-grenades” – via the clubs message board, behind the cover of a pseudonym. The manager himself only read posts, but the Director of Football was an active forum member and made a habit of becoming involved in online altercations with fans. Elsewhere at another local side any stories about them on the website of the local paper are almost always accompanied by a sniping comment from someone who appears to be nursing some kind of vendetta against the clubs management. Journalist Ian Ridley’s Floodlit Dreams, a memoir of his brief reign as Chairman of Weymouth, also describes how the atmosphere around a club can turn toxic.

In part such acrimony can arise because people care, they want their club to be successful and they have opinions about how best to achieve that – which in some cases may be more realistic than others. Another factor is that the distance between fans and the players and management is much smaller at non-league; The manager of a Premier League team is unlikely to heed one voice from the stand, or to spend much time sifting through message boards, but at non-league fans opinions are more likely to be heard and to have an impact. On one hand this is good, but on another it can mean that those running, or helping out at clubs  doing so as a labour of love question why they bothered in the first place when those offering criticism do so in a less than constructive manner. Equally in the non-league game you will find plenty of egos who don’t always take even well meant criticism particularly well and who seek to run clubs as mini fiefdoms.

This is not to say that the non-league game is a state of perpetual strife and continual Game of Thrones style power struggles; It is not, but neither is it always the warm, friendly place it is made out to be. As FC United shows even high ideals and a democratic structure do not prevent conflict, although the ideals of community and participation may yet provide a pathway out of it.

 

A Brief History of Football Blogging

25 Feb

The coming of the bloggers

At the very end of 2010 the website of The Guardian newspaper carried an article entitled 100 football blogs to follow in 2011 in which the articles author James Dart, asked rhetorically whether the forthcoming year would be the year of the blog. His conclusion was that it very possibly would be, pointing to the evidence of a range of blogs “which have grown, improved, developed and cross-pollinated in recent time” and which dealt with subjects ranging from football finance to the ins-and-outs of Slovakian football. It was a high point – even a golden age – for a format which few had heard of a decade before, so where had these bloggers come from?

The term ‘blog’ was itself coined in the late 1990s, originating from a fusing of the words web log. Early blogs were essentially journal-like posts hosted on the internet which tended to be organised in chronological order and took personal issues as their topic. In its early days blogging was something of a niche activity as in 1996 in the United Kingdom only 4.1 out of 100 of people had used the internet in the past year. This figure though would though rise rapidly to 26.8 out of 100 by the year 2000 and 70 out of 100 by 2005. Alongside this the coming of online tools, such as Livejournal and Blogger, launched in 1999, and WordPress in 2003, made creating blogs even easier.

As well as increasing in sheer numbers blogs also expanded in their range of topics; Politics, Technology, Cookery, Film, Music, Fashion as well as other sports all became the focus of bloggers and their blogs. In football blogging there were some echoes of the much celebrated fanzine culture of the 1980s where fans created DIY publications which they distributed themselves either via mail, or by selling copies on street-corners on matchdays.

The ‘zines as they were known were in their time heralded as transforming football discourse, giving ordinary fans a voice which was used to kick back against those in power, such as club owners and a hostile government and blogs such as Twohundredpercent, which focused heavily on the financial travails and mismanagement of clubs, appeared to follow in a similar vein. What really marked out the bloggers though was the sheer diversity of topics. Numerous sub-genres flourished alongside one off oddities. Blogs could be found on almost any football related topic; Football finance, football kits, football tactics, ground-hopping, music and football, football manager the game, stadium architecture, chips at non-league football grounds, and finally blogs dedicated to football in various nations and regions around the world whose entire footballing effort would have previously merited little more than a few lines in the pages of World Soccer. By the late noughties this whole scene was coming to maturity and at the top end blogs such as In Bed With Maradonna had established a clear brand image matching the traditional media for upholding quality editorial standards. Successful bloggers also gained large followings on the internet as a result of their writing. By contrast many traditional media outlets had been slow to embrace the internet and their online efforts at the time compared poorly.

Who were they?

As for the bloggers themselves, very little is known however, some US based research presents a few clues; A survey of 214 sport bloggers carried out by the John Curley Centre for Sports Journalism at Pennsylvania State University, published in 2009, found that 9 out of 10 sports bloggers were male with many being under 30. The researchers also found that the majority were college graduates, though fewer than 1 in 5 had a journalism, or communications degree. Similarly the 2011 paper focusing on eight prominent sports bloggers which cites the John Curley research found one common theme among participants was that the majority had what the authors termed ‘good educational pedigrees’, but despite this they had expressed dissatisfaction with the jobs they had just prior to their sports blogging careers. This may well suggest that for at least some blogging was an outlet for educated individuals, produced by successive expansions in further education, who felt their newly acquired skills were underused in the conventional labour market.

What did they achieve?

So what exactly was the impact of these educated, but directionless young adults? To answer the question one must look back to the recent past; Ahead of the Euro ‘96 semi-final meeting between England and Germany The Mirror newspaper ran a front page headline which read “Achtung! Surrender!” with the strapline “For you Fritz, ze Euro 96 Championship is over” If this was not excruciating enough the headline was accompanied by pictures of Paul Gascoigne and Stuart Pearce’s heads, sporting superimposed WWII style helmets. At the same time the bespectacled, pyjama wearing character ‘Statto’ with his interest in facts and figures was singled out as a figure of derision on the popular Baddiel and Skinner show Fantasy Football League. Both cases reflected the state of mainstream English football journalism. While there were of course exceptions, it was in the main both insular and anti-intellectual. The bloggers offered the perfect antidote to this producing writing which revelled in both intellectualism and internationalism. Analytics became the new cool as bloggers discussed nuances in tactics and on-pitch performance measures – Statto was having his revenge.

Two decades on from the Mirror’s headline the mainstream of English football writing is virtually unrecognisable. The influence of the bloggers over the past decade been apparent as the mainstream has absorbed their style and content. This can be strikingly overt such as The Guardian newspaper which has entered into partnership with some bloggers to reproduce the content of their blogs via the Guardian Sports Network.

The not so good
The impact of the bloggers has however, not been universally welcomed. Bloggers can be seen to pose a challenge to both the authority and livelihoods of traditional journalists. In 2013 Barney Ronay of The Guardian foretold the death of the traditional journalist at the hands of the amateur blogger:

At a time of rare and delirious expansion, football journalism in its traditional form is also facing the spectre of its own slow death. Not because nobody wants to do it any more, but because everybody seems to want to do it at the same time. It is hard to imagine this process in other day jobs: the suburban milkman setting off on his morning rounds and finding hundreds of other people already patrolling the dawn streets on rickety box-car floats quietly leaving their own bottles of home-brewed white liquid on the shared doorsteps, brushing past him on the driveway as he stands, a little bewildered in his dairy apron, just lingering long enough to mutter something barbed about traditional milkmen being finished…

Ronay’s concerns are not unfounded. In the past few years a number of journalists have found themselves unemployed – a situation which has arguably not been helped by the competition they face from an army of amateurs prepared to do their role for little, or no financial reward. On the other hand traditional journalists have managed to defend the exclusivity of the access they enjoy to the games key figures whilst bloggers do not appear – at least for now – to be threatening the status of the elite group at the top of the sports-writing hierarchy.

A more cutting criticism can though be made that despite increasing the number of voices in circulation the football blogging movement did little to increase the diversity of those voices. Like traditional-media sports writers, football bloggers were overwhelmingly white and male. This lack of diversity arguably finds itself reflected by the fact that whilst blogging explored many niche subjects issues such as race, gender, sexuality and discrimination received little attention.

The end of blogging?

But has blogging had its day? In 2014 a crisis of confidence arose as a number of prominent football bloggers began asking whether football blogging was over. They pointed to the loss of prominent and popular blogs, to bloggers giving up because of boredom, burn-out or lack of time, and to the incursion of the mainstream into football blogging territory. Elsewhere, from across blogging genres, there were also reports of a drying-up of comments on blog posts. With few reliable statistics it is always hard to verify such anecdotal evidence and it is possible to find contrarian viewpoints that football blogging continues to be in good health, but nevertheless the feeling that something had changed was there.

For some it was not necessarily a clear-cut case of doom and gloom. Instead they pointed to an evolution taking place in blogging. This development – like that which gave rise to the blogs – was down to technological changes; Smart phones with high quality cameras and video recording capability, faster internet speeds and platforms such as Twitter and Instagram have opened a new genre which had come to be termed ‘micro-blogging’; More visual and easily digestible than traditional text-based blogs micro-blogging is far less time-consuming for its authors whilst the social-media configuration enables easy sharing and allows large numbers of people to engage in an open conversation. Unsurprisingly football related micro-blogs have proliferated ranging from football kit designs, pictures of grounds, analytical graphs, football stickers and images from old video games.

More disputed is whether such evolution is a good thing. Whilst some may celebrate the expanding reach of blogs and point to the added dimension the use of micro-blogging can provide established blogs others may regret the dumbing down and loss of quality compared to what may be regarded as football blogging’s golden age. If anything though this evolution underlines the impact technology continues to have on football writing and suggests that the future for both the bloggers and traditional journalists is far from being settled.

Corinne Diacre: Quietly achieving revolution in the Auvergne

4 Jan

In Clermont-Ferrand, capital of the mountainous Auvergne region of France, football has always been a poor second to Rugby. Whilst the towns rugby side boasts an illustrious history, more latterly becoming French Champions in 2010 and European Champions Cup (Formerly Heineken Cup) runners-up in 2013 and 2015, its football team, Clermont Foot, can only offer up a third-tier championship won in 2007 and which gave the club the membership of Ligue 2, French football’s second tier. It was therefore quite possibly the first time that football had upstaged rugby in the town when Clermont Foot appointed Helena Costa as first-team head-coach in May 2014, and in doing so grabbing the attention of the world’s media keen to hail a historic moment.

The appointment of Costa had indeed been ground-breaking; She became the first ever woman to be appointed as head-coach of a men’s team in the top two divisions of any professional European league. Instrumental in the move had been the agent Sonia Souid – also involved in the first ever remunerated transfer of a French Professional Woman’s player between two French clubs – who viewed the appointment as an opportunity to create real change in the world of football.

Although there were some who claimed that the appointment had been a publicity stunt on the part of the clubs president, Claude Michy – no stranger to such things – it was though clear that Costa boasted a not unimpressive set of coaching credentials. These included a masters degree in sports science and a UEFA coaching licence. Costa had also worked as a scout for Celtic and coached Benfica’s male youth teams as well as the women’s national teams of Qatar and Iran. Her CV also included a stint of work-experience under compatriot Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

To those hoping for change however, there came a major blow when Costa quit barely a month into the job claiming that she had been effectively sidelined, being, she said, little more than a “face” to attract publicity. Among Costa’s complaints were the arranging of pre-season friendlies and players being signed without her knowledge as well as a series of emails to the clubs technical director going unanswered. A press conference in the wake of the departure only added to the impression that Costa’s appointment had been a false dawn for gender equality when Michy made a number of unenlightened-sounding remarks: “She’s a woman,” he said. “They are capable of leading us to believe in certain things and then… She simply said, ‘I’m going.’

This though was not the end of the story. Michy wasted no time in appointing another woman as head-coach. This time it was Corinne Diacre, a 39 year-old former French International defender with 121 caps to her name. Captaining the side she had also had a period as the national teams assistant manager and had managed Soyaux, her old club, between 2007 and 2013. As with Costa Diacre’s appointment caught the attention of the world’s media with much of the coverage focusing on her gender. Not all of this was welcome and according to Michy some reporters were even asking questions such as at what time did she enter the dressing room.

For Diacre the continuing focus by elements of the press on her gender, rather than on her actions as a coach, has proved something of an irritant. Over a year into the job, she has though established a track record with which her work can be judged objectively. In her first season the club finished in 12th, an improvement of 2 places on the previous season, but so far her second season is proving to be something of a revelation. The approach of Christmas saw Clermont firmly in the race for promotion to French football’s top tier, Ligue 1, and at the time of writing the team sit in third place – no mean feat for a club which has such a small budget.

Diacre’s work received recognition in both an extended contract in September, committing her to the club until 2018 and at the end of the year being awarded the title of Ligue 2 manager of 2015 by the well-regarded weekly publication France Football. Diacre told the magazine that promotion would not just be a personal triumph, it would, she said be a just reward for club president, Michy, who she credits with taking a risk on her appointment and continuing to provide her with his backing.

It is though a small irony that much of the worldwide attention on Diacre and Clermont Foot has evaporated and once again, in the Auvergne, it is rugby which receives the higher profile. Diacre’s moment of triumph is therefore unlikely to be as widely reported as her appointment, but this is an achievement in itself as Diacre is unlikely to want any more than to be seen as just another coach of a football team.

Is the Premier League becoming more equal?

1 Jan

CV graph

Any conversation about the Premier League this season will invariably include an observation that it is ‘a strange season’ as the established order we have all grown used to has shown signs of a shift. Leicester at the top of the league table instead of battling for relegation, Manchester United trailing Crystal Palace, last seasons champions Chelsea going from bad to worse? Has the world been turned upside down?

For some this seasons results are due to a structural shift towards greater equality. In The Telegraph Paul Hayward writes in an article titled The Premier League has become the new NFL – volatile, rich and thoroughly equal “Once an immutable parade of four or five global corporations, with occasional interventions by Everton or Spurs, the Premier League has emerged from the latest deluge of television money more competitive, unpredictable, meritocratic, intriguing and fun.” There is even talk, such as on the blog Just Football, of a new middle-class of clubs, of which Leicester are said to be a member.

An article in The Economist, Why The English Premier League Has Been Turned Upside Down however, suggests that rather than any long-term structural change what we’re seeing is more likely the result of rapid innovations in tactics and the result of, in Chelsea’s case, a lack of summer transfer activity combined with fatigue impacting on the form of key players.

So what is the long-term picture? A while back, in an attempt to come up with a measure of competitiveness which allowed me to compare different leagues, I calculated the coefficient of variation of league wins. This is calculated by working out the average number of league wins, along with the standard deviation (SD), a measure of spread. The SD is then divided by the average to produce a percentage. A high percentage means that the number of league wins is more spread out, and therefore the league can be said to be more unequal whilst a low number shows that, the number of wins recorded by each club over a season is closer to the average, and therefore the league is more evenly balanced.

While there is a degree of fluctuation going all the way back to the 1983/84 season we can see the long-term trend over this period has been for the coefficient to increase, suggesting that inequality has been rising, notably so in the Premier League era; In 1983/84, for instance, the coefficient was 27.1, whilst it peaked in 07/08 at 46.8. The league, much like society, seemed to have become infused with a greater inequality between those at the top and the rest.

The past few seasons however, have seen something of a slight fall in the inequality. In 12/13 the coefficient was 46.8, 44.6 in 13/14 and 40.2 in 14/15. For the current season, up until the end of 2015 the figure stands at a slightly higher 41.8. So the league taken as a whole this season is not any more competitive than last season. But despite this  apparently downwards trend it is hard to really tell whether this is a long-term change, or just short-term fluctuation, so we can’t rule out either the Hayward hypothesis, or the Economist alternative – or at least not yet.

Interestingly making a comparison with the other major European leagues  shows that currently the Premier League is more evenly balanced than the rest. To a greater, or lesser extent almost all of the big leagues have seen a rise in inequality in recent years and at the end point of 2015 it is in fact the Bundesliga which is the most uneven with a coefficient of 49.1. The figure for Ligue 1 is also interesting as whilst at 46.7  it doesn’t stand out in the group, but between 2004-05 and 2012-13 its highest coefficient had been 38.4, and for most of the time it had been around the mid-thirties. This change is unsurprising though as what had been an open league has become increasingly dominated by one club, Paris St. Germain, who last season won the treble of league, cup and league cup.

European league coefficients (2015/16  season up to 31st Dec 2015)

Bundesliga 49.1

Ligue 1 46.7

La Liga 47.5

Serie A 43.5

English top division coefficients (15/16 up to 31st Dec 2015)

83 84 27.1
84 85 31.8
85 86 39.2
86 87 30.5
87 88 39.7
88 89 31.0
89 90 30.6
90 91 34.8
91 92 25.9
92 93 23.9
93 94 38.1
94 95 37.8
95 96 36.7
96 97 32.3
97 98 31.7
98 99 33.7
99 00 38.0
00 01 35.8
01 02 42.2
02 03 35.6
03 04 39.4
04 05 46.2
05 06 42.2
06 07 39.7
07 08 46.8
08 09 44.0
09 10 45.3
10 11 33.7
11 12 43.8
12 13 46.8
13 14 44.6
14 15 40.2
15/16 41.8

 

 

 

 

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